Golf Architect

On the death of their father, Nicol called all of his brothers together for a meeting to decide their future. As the eldest, he felt this was his responsibility to do so. It was there that the decision was made for the Thompsons to remain in the golf business and that Stanley would lead the way. This would be the beginning of a new dawn in golf course architecture.


The Amazing Thompsons: Thompson brothers as a 1923 fivesome.
(left to right) Frank, Matt, Nicol, Stanley and Bill

Stanley Thompson was rich and poor having spent fortunes many times over. He was married twice (his first wife died), he had no children other than his adopted son Norm; was a raconteur, an imbiber (preference was Canadian Club), a legend in his own time, founder (with Donald Ross) of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, photographed by Karsh, revered by writers of his day, a mentor to those who worked in his Toronto and Guelph studios (Robert Trent Jones, Howard Watson, Robbie Robinson, Geoff Cornish, Ken Melton, Norman Woods and Bob Moote – along with their many disciples including Doug Carrick, Ted Baker, Graham Cooke, Thom McBroom, Les Furber and David Moote). He died in 1953 after a stroke at the Royal York Hotel where he was preparing for a journey to South America.

There are many stories about Thompson, some fact, some fiction. But, perhaps the final story is the best one. In his last years he worked and lived at Dormie House located on the sixteenth fairway of the Cutten Club which he had designed in 1933 and purchased in 1948. It was Dormie House where Chuck Howitt, his executor, called the creditors together. Stanley, who died penniless, owed them more than $500,000. In the end, after difficult discussions, they all agreed to forgive his debts. One of them said, "Stanley did more for us individually, than we did for him.”

Stanley Thompson has been recognized posthumously as a Person of National Significance and is a member of both the Canadian Golf and Sports Halls of Fame. On June 29th 2008, Senator Michael L. MacDonald, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsbile for Parks Canada, unveiled a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque at Highland Links Golf Course in Cape Breton Highlands National Park